Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Macpherson Report 10 years on

Guy Smith
BBC London's home affairs correspondent

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence's murder was a watershed in British policing

A decade after the Macpherson Report, have things fundamentally changed in the Met? BBC London's Home Affairs Correspondent Guy Smith talked to four serving officers about their experiences.

Pc Jonathan Morrison has been with the Metropolitan Police for seven years.

He will be 34 this year - the same age as Stephen Lawrence would have been if he had survived.

The 18-year-old was stabbed in an unprovoked attack at a bus stop in Eltham, south London, in April 1993. Nobody has ever been convicted of his murder.

Almost half his lifetime later, Mr Morrison, who is also black, recalled how he lived in nearby Lewisham at the time of the murder.

Pc Jonathan Morrison
Pc Jonathan Morrison says he would not be in the Met if it had not changed

"I was disgusted with what happened. I was disgusted with how the police dealt with it.

"And at that time I would never have joined the police service."

In February 1999, Sir William Macpherson published his report which is now regarded as a watershed in British race relations.

It was a damning assessment, accusing the Met of "institutional racism".

Many of the 70 recommendations made were aimed specifically at improving police attitudes and stressed the importance of recruiting more black and Asian police officers.

Mr Morrison said: "I wouldn't be in it today if the Met hadn't changed.

"But there's still room for improvement."

'Totally changed'

He is one of about 2,700 ethnic minority officers in the Met, more than double the number 10 years ago.

Currently, that is about 8.5% of the workforce - still significantly below the Home Office target of 25% by 2009.

Supt Dal Babu
Supt Dal Babu says the Met needs more Muslim officers

Supt Dal Babu, 45, is a senior Asian officer with 25 years' experience.

"We now have dedicated murder squad teams. We have family liaison officers.

"It's made a massive difference how we investigate murders and that's a direct consequence of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry."

But he believes the biggest challenge is to ensure more ethnic minority officers are in senior positions and in specialist units such as counter-terrorism.

He said: "If the biggest threat is from Al Qaeda-inspired groups, then we need to have more Muslim officers who speak the language and understand the culture.

"In the same way, we use African Caribbean officers for Trident operations and women for our Sapphire units (to investigate rape allegations).

"It's not political correctness, it's about a business case. We have to make best use of the resources."

Det Sgt Kevin Boyle
The force has become more tolerant, says Det Sgt Kevin Boyle

The Macpherson Report focused on race, but it also had an effect on issues of diversity and equality.

Det Sgt Kevin Boyle, 56, works in Kensington & Chelsea and is openly gay.

He said the most noticeable change was in the way officers now investigate hate crimes.

"If a gay person came in to report a crime 10 years ago the officer would not have been comfortable to investigate or have known the correct terminology.

"They may have inadvertently 'outed' someone when taking a statement. It's totally changed.

'Sweeney' approach

"Officers are now trained in all aspects of diversity."

He said the notorious canteen culture had also all but disappeared.

Det Supt Caroline Bates
Det Supt Caroline Bates says women are more accepted

"I see plenty of colleagues who now proudly have pictures of their civil partners on their desk.

"Before it would have been pictures of their parents or of a dog."

Det Supt Caroline Bates, 46, heads up the Met's Child Abuse Investigation Command.

She also believes the Met has changed for the better.

"There is an acceptance now that women can apply for any job or any rank - and that's just normal.

"I've been a police officer for 16 years. It's still very male but I've noticed that some of the people who were my senior managers and had a 1970s Sweeney approach have gone."

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